This year has been unlike any other in most living memory. The COVID-19 pandemic has put gatherings on hold and shifted others to virtual settings. This is no different for the Alpha Alpha Gamma Chapter at the University of Applied Health Sciences in Zagreb, Republic of Croatia—the first Sigma chapter in the country.
Though their induction and chartering ceremony will be simplified from their original plans and held virtually, it is their way of persevering, encouraging, and recognizing the sacrifices that healthcare workers have been making during this pandemic. The chapter is also looking toward the future. Being part of Sigma means they will be able to connect with nurse leaders around the world to develop the nursing profession in Croatia and, in turn, help other countries advance the nursing profession. At the chapter level, Alpha Alpha Gamma is planning to attend nursing conferences and hold professional development seminars for its members.
Formal nursing education began in Croatia in 1921. Since then, it has gone through several stages of development. In the 1970s and 1980s, many nurses went through vocational training and very few completed undergraduate studies. Training was focused on the tasks nurses would need to perform and not necessarily patient care. That began to change in the 1990s but the Croatian War of Independence from 1991 to 1995 slowed down the development of nursing education. Since then, more students have started enrolling in nursing studies and professional associations in the country. Beginning in the first decade of the 21st century, nurses have started taking on more managerial roles in Croatia.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on just how important nurses are and that they are the core of the healthcare system in Croatia and around the world. Research has taken a backseat to frontline work. Nurses have been reassigned to intensive care units and those nurses over 60 years old have been added to logistics teams. And, like nurses all over the world, they have implemented new procedures to protect healthcare staff caring for those who need it most.
As they did during the Croatian War of Independence, Croatian nurses, members of the Alpha Alpha Gamma Chapter, and nurses all over the world will overcome this challenge with love, courage, and honor.
Welcome to the Sigma family, Alpha Alpha Gamma!